- Written by Chris Nielsen
Joomla 3.3 is soon ready for lift off and we can expect some great new features in this release. When combined with many fantastic features so far in the Joomla 3 series this is proving to be a true example of innovation and forward thinking in the world of content management solutions. On the projected release date of April 22nd 2014, jump over to http://www.joomla.org/3 to get a glimpse of new features and more information. In the meantime check out this teaser video for some highlights.
Joomla! 3.3 is all about “doing more” and this is exactly what you can do with Joomla!
Using Joomla to deliver online content to better your business, community or organization is not only a smart choice but using the Joomla! CMS just keeps getting better. With each release, you can always Do More with Joomla. However, with this release there are several new features that really will let you do more with your Joomla! powered website. In addition to five key features presented in Joomla 3.3, there are also many enhancements made to the user interface and core code of the CMS. Upgrade, demo or start building today and be among the first to take advantage of all the great new features and stability in Joomla 3.3.
New fortified Joomla Security in Joomla 3.3
The Joomla CMS v3 series has been the most secure version in history and with Joomla 3.3 they raised the bar even more by making PHP 5.3.10 the minimum supported version required to use Joomla!. While this is something that mostly just happens under the hood, it provides a number of security benefits, including stronger password encryption, and it prevents problems caused by vulnerabilities that can be triggered through earlier versions of PHP. With Joomla 3.3 you can build with confident that Joomla will always be a smart choice for protecting your web assets. Joomla is one of the most aggressive open source CMS’s when it comes to security and something to take note of is that Joomla is the first leading open source CMS to offer 2 Factor Authentication.
Get your Link Juice with new microdata features that can supercharge your SEO marketing
Joomla! 3.3 includes a new libraries which allows microdata to be used and implemented in Joomla! like never before. This is very exciting and useful for your online marketing needs because it will allow you to identify authors in articles and append micro data information to breadcrumb links. While this is a relatively new technique it is the way the marketplace is turning. Rich Snippets about your content can be generated for items like reviews and ratings, or to identify content as relating to people, events or creative works. This capability will significantly enhance your potential with useful marketing tools and allow you to take advantage of the latest changes by popular search engines.
Cloud Storage APIs can bring big data storage costs down
Joomla 3.3 comes with new APIs that will allow Joomla to access cloud storage services including Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Rackspace and Dropbox. You can now use these data storage services as content distribution networks without the need for third party extensions. This means you can reduce costs on data storage and maximize your investment when using this feature in Joomla. It also means that Joomla is poised better for more enterprise level implementations.
Making the user experience easier and giving more power on the front end
Managing content on your Joomla site just got easier. In Joomla 3.3 users can be granted access to manage specific content based on user permissions right from the front end of your Joomla site. You will have capabilities to configure options that were before only available from the back end administrative area. This new feature gives much more flexibility and control to site administrators while simplifying content management options for your subject matter experts. This means you have more control of your content while making it simple and easy for content contributors to accomplish more.
Code conflicts, “Don’t you hate it when that happens?”
When building complex sites with a lot of features and it is like putting a bunch of kids in a sandbox. They do not always play nice together. Joomla 3.3 hopes to help solve this. The CMS core in Joomla 3.3 will now use JQuery only. What does this mean? Well in the past there have been two libraries shipped as a way to leverage many of the groovy features in Joomla. When combined with templates and extensions interchanging between various libraries left the door open for surprises. Code instances that were using Mootools have now been converted to use JQuery. Since Joomla now comes with it’s own JQuery library this increases site performance and reduces conflicts from when individual extensions called multiple copies of the same library or clashed with Mootools. This means you can deploy sites with fewer technical issues, greater stability and reduce the time or cost troubleshooting.
Yes it is time to upgrade… Connect and Do More…. We are here to help
Remember that since the update manager was introduced in Joomla 2.5 upgrading your Joomla site is so much easier. Upgrading from Joomla 3.x.x to 3.3 is a one-click upgrade and is NOT a migration. The same is true is for any subsequent versions in the Joomla 3 series.
Of course if you have a Joomla 2.5 site or older you will want to consult documentation or forums and carefully review the requirements for a successful upgrade. There are also plenty of “Registered Providers” on the new Joomla Resource Directory http://resources.joomla.org willing to assist you.
Oh and helping folks be successful with Joomla… well that is what we are all about here at CNP too. I do not mind hearing our phone ring. :-)
Other interesting blog posts on Joomla 3.3 features
- Written by Chris Nielsen
Please Welcome GEO Radius Search 2.5.5
We can confidently say that “GEO Radius Search is the most comprehensive GEO mapping and navigation solution for Joomla CMS.” Come experience the unmatched power of the ZOO cck framework, linking to the rich features of Google maps and our unique Radius Search and results display engine. You can now deliver flexible and expandable GEO enabled web applications with the Joomla CMS that is only limited by your imagination.
This release has been a major achievement for us with a complete redesign of the code, bug fixes, performance enhancements and more.
GREAT NEWS! GEO Radius Search is featured on the new Joomla Resource Directory found at: http://resources.joomla.org.
The GEO Radius Search Extension was chosen as a key navigation tool for the new Joomla Resource Directory because it offered the ideal navigation process for what was lacking in the former system. Users can now quickly connect to categorized providers both on the map view or in organized search results.
How can we help you achieve greater success?
We are committed to helping you be successful with your Joomla implementation and use of our GEO Radius Search extensions. With most of the compatibility issues behind us we can develop version 3 without distraction and you should also find us more responsive to tickets in our support system.
Remember, extension specific support with your active subscription is free but if you have more complex or incompatibility issues or general problems with your Joomla site, need to upgrade or require custom solutions our team is also available to provide hourly project and technical support.
Thanks to our worldwide user base we have collected diverse use cases to make this release of 2.5.5 the most stable and feature rich release yet. In addition to several new user driven features and a lot of tweaks and bug fixes, we have upgraded our migration script for legacy users to help them upgrade and migrate to the latest versions of Joomla.
Everyone should plan to upgrade to the Joomla CMS v3 series.
GEO Radius Search works best with the latest versions of Joomla, ZOO and the ZL Framework. When you are upgrading to the latest Joomla 3.x it is important that you also upgrade your installation of ZOO and if you are using the ZL Framework and ZOOlanders extensions you also need to make sure all of these are updated to the latest versions. One of our new features is a version verification to help make this process easy for you.
Note for upgrading ZOO: We have found that to avoid problems with repopulating field elements in ZOO do not update sample data. Some folks have lost configuration settings and this adds more work that can be avoided.
New Features in GEO Radius Search 2.5.5:
- Core code was optimized significantly for performance, scalability and future enhancements
- Installation files reduce in size for faster download and installs
- Updated auto fill libraries for improved accuracy
- Added measurement type front end selector (Miles or Kilometers) for international applications
- Version checker for ZOO to verify and test for version compatibility
- Enable disable that front end measurement selector on individual models
- New css for results grid and items display
- Improved mobile support – better display on more mobile devices
- Improved support for ZL Framework (Zoolanders)
- Improved migration script for ZooRadius to GEO Radius
- Improved Cache management
- Added Google Maps api4 support
- Increased default number of lines in scrolling lists (will be parameter setting in the future)
- New Pop-ups for Print and email options
- Updated Cluster Libraries for info box lables
- Fixed amount of columns and items per page selectors
- Fixed bug related to bad formatting inside results popup when using Zoolanders
- Fixed an error message that sometimes showed on that results popup
- Fixed map display tab options
- Fixed issue with duplicate address listings not displaying markers – created marker offset
- Fixed map subscribe from filter issue for module linking
- Fixed Auto fill feature
- Fixed Map Display Image feature for overlays
- Resolved drag and drop conflict in results templates (Requires latest version of ZL Framework)
- Fixed maker not auto closing in map when repositioning
- Removed next / prev buttons from results page when there are no results
Feature Roadmap for future Releases:
- Improved user interface options and style manager –
- parameters for resizing map
- Radius indicators
- Distance indicators
- Icon Libraries – some internal and links to collections
- Improved documentation and help text in the UI.
- Admin options for advanced category level management
- Parameters for selecting the number of allowed sub categories
- Options for how sub categories are handled beyond set max level
- Support for JomSocial events and profiles
Remember if you have an idea for a new feature we welcome your suggestions and will do our best to accommodate these as supported features in a future release or we can build custom solutions for you.
- Written by Chris Nielsen
Joomla has taken a few lumps over the last couple years and briefly lost a little of it’s dominance in the marketplace of open source CMS systems. However, even though its growth slowed a bit there has been steady growth in market share and many new web sites coming to market using the Joomla CMS. In fact Joomla just reached 50 million downloads with the highest numbers proportionately for the latest release of the J3.x series. Joomla has never lost its position as the second most popular but rivals (I say that lightly) like WordPress, have seen a more significant boost in growth over the past two years. As to why, I think there are a lot of factors contributing but take note that Joomla is gearing up to seriously gain some forward momentum. Like any organization that has gone through growing pains the true survivors actually find a way to come out stronger in the end.
New leaders and getting better organized
The cool thing I am noticing with Joomla right now is that there is a vibrant and energized spirit among the community and new leaders have come in to carry the torch as others shift within the community to support other initiatives. This is opening the door for some new ideas and many opportunities for the community to reorganize. Joomla is well poised right now to attract more participation from a greater number of talented folks. There is a whole business minded side of the community that is emerging and this is inspiring the same level of synergy that has gone into building smart code and features to not only the “Joomla CMS” but the “Joomla framework” as well. The Joomla Framework is a powerful tool suite for rapid application development which has tremendous potential for the future of the Joomla brand. I think new leadership in Joomla is fully aware that they need to do more than build great software. They need to reconnect to the emotion and passion that has always inspired innovation to do great things and they need to do this across a diverse organization, inclusive of smart business savvy and against the backdrop of a strategic marketing plan.
Hanging on against great adversaries with tons of money
It is impressive to me that Joomla has been up against some serious contenders with deep pockets , yet has managed to maintain a strong hold and continued growth in the marketplace. Of the top three, Joomla is the “last one standing” as a community not held up in part by a well-funded commercial organization. Joomla, has recently done a lot to poise itself for meeting the challenges in the marketplace. In addition to building teams around marketing initiatives and defining better overall strategies and organizational structures they are rethinking and redesigning many aspects of their portals and communication processes to streamline efficiency. There is plenty of debate right now about if Joomla should align with either a commercial organization or take on paid staff for key roles. I kind of sit on the fence over these ideas because both sides of the argument seem to make logical sense. In any case Joomla is on the path to find what will work best for them to remain a relevant technology with a rich future.
Building a commercial arm for Joomla
One of the initiatives that I think is going to help boost the Joomla economy and engage a commercial arm of the community is bringing the service providers together. This has huge potential if they can find new ways to collaborate and cooperate on finding and nurturing business opportunities and new partnerships. If businesses are able to have more opportunities to build Joomla sites there will be more users and market share. If end users work with providers they have a greater chance of success. If providers can build partnerships they can do more for their clients and thus be able to help strengthen the capabilities of the Joomla community to “Do More”. Joomla has a thriving ecosystem and an extremely fun and talented bunch of folks to do business with. Joomla will gain serious market momentum if it can build their brand identity globally to mirror their popularity in Europe where folks say “Whom can I get to help me build my Joomla site” vs an Americana type approach were they would say “I need a web site what should I “Whom can I get help me with my web site.”
Introducing the NEW Joomla Resources Directory (JRD) – “Connect and Do More”
I am particularly excited that I have been involved in revamping the Joomla Resources Directory portal for the project http://resources.joomla.org. Along with a team of enthusiastic volunteers we have built an improved web space for end users to connect with “Registered Providers” whom are committed to the Joomla community. This means better service and support and better results overall for everyone.
The previous system while a good effort was lacking. So the new system has taken these lessons learned and added features to make it a better user experience for those searching for Registered Providers and the process for signing up to be a provider is significantly easier. The key element that will stand out other than an interesting GEO map navigation from our own GEO Radius Search extension is the whole “Connect and Do More…” badge concept introduced by our creative Director Fred Sarhadi. This badge concept models that of the Better Business Bureau where every provider is held to a strict standard of conducting business with ethical integrity and a strong commitment to the values of the Joomla Community. This whole repository has potential to grow into or at least encourage a consortium of like-minded businesses to partner on a variety of initiatives. There is room for taking on campaigns that could only be carried out by commercial minded group. If Joomla choses to remain without an official commercial entity or paid staff to back it this grouping of committed providers could be the next best thing. In the mean-time end users have a great resource to “Connect and Do More” with a Registered Joomla Provider. Let’s see what happens.
Blue skys ahead for Joomla 3.x
Joomla 3.3 is just around the corner (April 22nd planned release date) and this all leads up to a Joomla 3.5 long term release. Joomla is just getting better on so many levels. The J3.3 Do More release is perhaps the most stable and secure of all releases in the history of Joomla. It dramatically improves security, offers metadata for dominating SEO potential and has great new tools to further empower developers. Each of the 3.x releases so far has introduced extremely valuable and useful features for every user type. In fact did you know that Joomla was the first major open source CMS to introduce 2 Factor Authentication and Bootstrap libraries into their core. Take a look at some of the highlights: http://www.joomla.org/3. If you combined this great new software with an ever evolving enthusiastic and better organized global community, ”KODOS!” Joomla! you really have something to be proud of!
Rally the troops, get on the bandwagon, line up your ducks, fasten your seat belts and get ready to Rock-n-Roll folks there is a great ride ahead!
Joomla 1.0 was good, Joomla 1.5 was better, Joomla 2.5 was great but Joomla 3.x is FANTASTIC!
- Written by Chris Nielsen
Febraury 11th is “Safer Internet Day” as declared by the UK based organization www.saferinternet.org.uk. We need to change our mindset about security and cival librties. In this fast paced high tech world we live in today everyone seems to want everything faster and cheaper and security seems to be one of the biggest areas neglected in the value chain. That is until you get violated.
Here are some real world threats and 10 things you can do to make a difference:
Examples like the recent Target Stores estimating nearly 70+ million credit cards were compromised, numerous identity theft cases in the news and the information that folks like Edward Snowden have exposed. Did you know the NSA and just about any crafty hacker with a purpose can completely access any of your electronic devices including turning on your cell phone/laptop mikes or cameras without you even knowing it? This in my mind can make interacting with cyber space much scarier than the “Wild Wild West” ever was.
See:http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/01/17/263375116/analysts-credit-card-hacking-goes-much-further-than-target As quoted from another news article "Attention 70 million Target shoppers: the people who stole your credit and debit card information also have your mailing address, email account and phone number."
Chaos in the marketplace
I recently found a collection of interesting videos recorded at the Chaos Communication Congress held this past December over in Germany. While many of these were extremely geek oriented and some so intense they left my head spinning, I did learn more about some mind blowing challenges in the security and civil liberties space we all should be aware of.
Most folks seem to have followed the newsbytes about the “Edward Snowden Case” but few realize the real information he shared, what it exposed and what this really means.
The first videos in this exploration opened my eyes to some scary realities:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vILAlhwUgIU and that lead me to a whole collection of similar videos:http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2013/
If you take a few minutes poking through this stuff you will most likely see a picture you may not have considered in the past.
Be aware, take steps to yourself and never assume
Back in 2000, while working on a military base for the Naval Underwarter Warefare Center (NUWC), I was one of the first to play with tunneling through port 80 using Flash Communication Server. Imagine a spy being able to broadcast secrets anywhere over the internet directly from within a military base or any highly secure facility. I exposed a major whole in their firewall security that their IT experts had no clue about. Why? Because at the time it was new emerging technology and they were looking at security from the perspective of what they learned in school not what was emerging on the street. We are in a similar boat today where even though we may have some of the smartest folks and high-tech tools helping us to protect our cyber assets there are no guarantees. There are plenty of folks with techniques, motive and knowhow out there waiting to blindside us and steal our money or most valuable secrets. Remember for all of the groovy new tools that we now have for doing good and making things convenient online there are equally as many advancements in tools that could be used against us. Being aware of the potential vulnerability you have by interacting with these new technologies is the first step and it may require a little more effort than in the past given the proliferation of technology all around us.
The end of “Social Security” has a double meaning on the web
Having worked on military bases and secure facilities for 5 years, where security is ingrained in our heads to be a disciplined process we all had to follow, I was eager to jump back into the private sector where I thought things could be a little more lax. I could not have been further from the truth. It is just as important for us in our personal lives and business practices to keep a strong focus on security. We lock the doors to our cars and houses but often we do not consider potential access to much more valuable stuff kept on our electronic devices.
I went on Youtube yesterday and found 15 videos on how to hack any facebook account and login as any user. By now most people know that when you put information up on Facebook “they” then own it and “they” have very loose “Non” privacy rules. However, these networks while fun and exciting as they may be, open us to leaving our guards down. It is way too easy for folks with motives to put together complete pictures of your life from small pieces of information and use it in ways that they could take advantage of.
Having many friends in the security community, over the years, I have been exposed to some intense tools hackers use to get “their way” online. Though, I was curious to see what would be out there for the average person other than typical antivirus software. I started searching for tools to protect all of my personal devices and networks etc.
This search ended up scaring me even more since, I found very few tools that an average user can use to fight off the bad guys. Remember, (thanks to Edward Snoden) we know now that there have been backdoors built into the actual chips on most hardware built in the past 5+ years. It was pointed out to me that aniti-virus and anti-spyware software cannot protect you from access of the craftiest hackers and they can operate in stealth. I found more, easy to follow tutorials on things like “man in the middle” attacks where someone hacks your wireless router and can spy on everything you do on your desk top. I also found services that allow you to spy on anyone with a cell phone.http://www.flexispy.com/ andhttp://www.mobile-spy.com/. If you really start thinking about it and look deeper there is a lot to be concerned with for your business, your family and personal privacy.
Keep your CMS Up to date!
Businesses are rushing to the internet since it has the potential to make them more competitive in a global marketplace and they can now reach broader audiences. There are three dominate open source Content Management systems in the market place, Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress. Each of these CMS’s has best use cases and strengths for a variety of online solutions. Our experience has taught us that the number one way folks leave themselves vulnerable online is by not keeping their web applications up to date. Remember, technologies are advancing at a rapid pace. How many of you keep the same cell phone or laptop for more than 2 years? Software development is moving at an even faster pace than hardware and this means not only are there more great features that you can take advantage of by upgrading your CMS but the longer you wait to do so the more time hackers have to try to break the older technologies.
One thing that is very fascinating to me is that in the “hacker community” or on the “dark web”, once one person figures out some type of vulnerability; they spread it across a vast network of web hackers that have the potential to do a lot of damage long before there is even a fix available.
One of the reasons we chose to focus our support for Joomla is because there is such a vast development community they can respond to security patches quickly and Joomla puts security as their top priority. In fact, the latest version of Joomla even offers double authentication just like many back sites will send you a security code that is only good for a short period so it is nearly impossible to hack your login. Equally important as keeping your CMS up to date is to understand the infrastructure and security policies of your hosting company. If you are the owner of any site and you get hacked and this leads to any one’s personal information to be compromised, not only can they shut you down immediately but they will hold you liable for all damages. This about that for a moment and if 70 million folks can get hacked on Targets network what would happen if they got into the cloud where your site was hosted and that was the origin of a massif hack? Not a pretty picture.
Oh My G… What can I do?
Ok enough with the scary stuff and on to some practical options for protecting yourself. As you begin thinking more security conscious you need to identify what information, communications and technical assets you want to protect and to keep private. Once you have a clear picture of your security landscape, you may find these tips and tools helpful.
1. Be AWARE and stay in the loop. Subscribe to RSS feeds, newsletters or information channels that can keep you informed on what threats are out there.
2. Seek advice from experts. If you run a business online or off audit your systems on a regular basis. Build a support team that can be proactive and responsive when it comes to security. Network security is often different than online web security and make sure you have all of the right expertise on your team.
3. Develop a security emergency protocol for how to respond to various situations both personal and for your business networks or web sites. Keep call lists and information available that can help you respond quickly. If a pipe breaks in your house the longer it goes with the water running the more damage that can be done.
4. Surf on a TOR browser to protect your privacy. There is an interesting open source project called the TOR networkhttps://www.torproject.org/. This web site has a collection of privacy tools and suggestions for setting up things like encrypted emails.
5. Set up encrypted email and encourage others to do so. Here is one tool for thishttp://www.gpg4win.org/features.html and here is a tutorial:http://lifehacker.com/how-to-encrypt-your-email-and-keep-your-conversations-p-1133495744
6. Get security software for your cell phone such ashttps://silentcircle.com/ services or other apps
7. Install encryption on your VoIP phones. Use a service or look around for options. Here are a couple sample links: http://zfoneproject.com/ orhttp://lifehacker.com/255283/how-to-encrypt-your-voip
8. Use strong passwords and keep your private passwords protected in a tool like Keepasshttp://keepass.info/ There are also several other online services to research.
9. If you have a web site for your business make sure you keep it up to date, use secure passwords and we recommend using a web application security solutions likehttp://www.securelive.com. I would also recommend reading Tom Canavan’s book CMS Security Handbook:http://www.amazon.com/CMS-Security-Handbook-Comprehensive-WordPress/dp/0470916214
10. Get involved with organizations, events and resources groups that foster safety and security online such as http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/ Notice: Feb, 11th 2014 is Safer Internet Day. There are plenty more… go find them and speak up!
There are a ton of other steps you can and should take as well as many more tools or books and blogs to investigate. The most important thing you can do though is to always think consciously about security. Start developing new habits and discipline yourself to be more aware of how you can protective of your privacy and technology assets.